For 25 years, North Korea has called the shots in all negotiations, demanding the US, Japan and South Korea to bend to its will. No one has ever walked out on Kim, his father nor his grandfather. But Trump just got up and left, shocking everyone in Asia. Please keep reading…..
The troubling reality about dealing with North Korea, as reflected by many of the US, Japanese and European negotiators who have worked with this reclusive country over the years, is that this country only respects those who are powerful. Despite the fact that Kim Jong-un and his late father Kim Jong-il who died in 2011, fully employed the threat of nuclear weapons as a core negotiating tool to leverage food and energy from South Korea, Japan, and the United States. Their message was simple, give us food or we will let missiles fly or give us oil and gas or we will attach a nuclear weapon to these missiles.
So when President Trump took office, he started talking about “Fire and Fury” and the shock that “Rocket Man” would experience. Did it work? We do not know but after 25 years of bribes, food and free cash and nothing to show, the previous US Presidents, Japanese Prime Ministers and South Korean leaders were amazed that Trump got two meetings with Kim Jong-un outside of his country. North Korean leaders almost never travel outside of their insular and very safe Socialist Paradise.
But here in Asia, some people are now saying that President Trump was in Hanoi not to make peace but to walk out of a meeting for two reasons. One was to look the easily excitable Kim Jong-un in the eyes and say, “you are rude, I’m going home” with the purpose of embarrassing him in front of the media and his top brass on his team. No one ever walks out of a meeting on Kim, no one. Two years ago a senior general fell asleep in a meeting with Kim, and he was shot, blown into small pieces by an anti-aircraft weapon. Kim takes his meetings very seriously.
Now there is another reason that Trump walked out of this meeting, more like a theory here in Asia. Since China gets points for facilitating this meeting with North Korea, and at the same time needs a trade deal with the US to ensure its economy does not fall off a cliff, Beijing must wish for all meetings to go well. or else.
So the new theory in Asia is that Trump walked out on North Korea and will walk out on Xi of China – because these guys do not play fair. More importantly, if Kim Jong-un fires a missile, Trump only backs away and both North Korea and China have egg on their faces. Trump may be playing the long game with both Kim and Xi.